The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 14 September 2017

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Truly confusing

President Trump abhors fake news – so what lies behind his decision to let his own anti-propaganda unit sit idle?

Donald Trump’s sluggishness in appointing everyone from ambassadors to civil servants is no secret. But it’s also threatening efforts to tackle Russian fake news and Isis’s online recruitment drive: The Global Engagement Center – an anti-propaganda unit established by Barack Obama that falls under the purview of the State Department – has been without a leader since Trump assumed power. Matters haven’t been helped by the recent departure of the centre’s chief technology officer Nash Borges, alongside two other staffers, under unclear circumstances. With the cloud of Russian interference still hanging over the administration, the US’s ability to tackle misinformation is clearly hampered and doesn’t do much to convince anyone that it is taking the threat seriously.

Culture

Image: Alessandro Digaetano

Going, going…

Those with an eye for art would do well to look to New York next week: works belonging to renowned interior designer Masamichi Katayama will be on offer.

When influential retail and interior designer Masamichi Katayama exhibited his collection of art and furniture at Tokyo Opera City earlier this year, visitors were stunned by its breadth and sheer size. Under the wry and self-deprecating title Life is hard… Let’s go shopping, the show featured everything from Jean Prouvé chairs and stuffed polar bears to artwork by the likes of superstar artist Takashi Murakami. Now the man who helmed influential design practice Wonderwall for more than two decades is having a clearout, auctioning off more than 70 works from his eclectic hoard in New York next week. The Katayama Collection goes under the hammer at Phillips on 19 September.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Where possible, make a U-turn

Frankfurt’s annual International Auto Show is back this week but is it lacking a certain something? That’s it: cars.

Frankfurt’s International Auto Show is in full swing and before it opens to the public on Saturday, the city’s Messe is already abuzz with press and industry insiders. While German carmakers – out in full force this week – put on a brave face, this year’s show is a clear manifestation of the turbulent state of their industry. The simple fact that the exhibitors include technology companies such as Facebook, IBM and Kaspersky Lab is evidence enough that the automotive sector is not what it was. Moreover Tesla, the current rockstar of the industry, has decided not to exhibit, preferring instead to showcase its products at its own events or consumer-electronics fairs. Its absence in Frankfurt is another subtle challenge to the more established brands.

Urbanism

Image: Flickr

Airbnb? Arrivederci

How the rise of tourism rentals means that before long, it might be harder to buy Italy’s claim on ‘la dolce vita’.

Europeans may grumble when their cities creak with the influx of tourists during summer but spare a thought for Italy. A study by the University of Siena over the past two years has revealed that vast swathes of Italy’s historic city centres are being rented out via Airbnb. In Florence that number is 18 per cent of all housing stock but the worst hit is the Unesco-listed historic centre of Matera, in the region of Basilicata, where a quarter of all homes are rented to tourists. These cities take pride in sharing their wonders with the world but allowing “Airfication” (as the study puts it) to such an extent may erode the very authenticity that draws the crowds.

From Monocle 24

Wide-awake start-ups

In a technology industry obsessed with artificial intelligence and augmented reality, one of the most exciting sectors involves foam and springs. Start-ups are shaking up the once-sleepy sector of making and selling mattresses. But with competition through the roof, who will become the industry leader? We sit down with James Cox, co-founder of London mattress company Simba.

From Monocle Films

Entrepreneurs: The Nunhead Gardener

Monocle Films heads to the leafy suburbs of southeast London, where entrepreneurs Peter Milne and Alex Beltran have given up their corporate jobs to set up a charming garden centre.

Loading...

/

15

15

Live

00:00 01:00